Books for Christmas

I remember a good friend telling me that when she gave holiday gifts she always gave books (hence her designation as least favorite gift giver). She didn’t care-her feeling was that toys got broken, games got shoved into closets or languished in cabinets, but stories endured.

With that in mind, I’ve gotten my daughter a Kindle for Christmas (here’s hoping she won’t read this post, since it’s meant to be a surprise). I’ll admit that the gift is partly motivated by self interest-I’m going to be e-published in the new year, so I’m all for furthering the cause of e-books.

But it also got me thinking about gifting books. As it happened, I was rummaging my shelves and came across a hardcover copy of “Little Women,” one of my favorite girlhood books. As I flipped it open, I noticed that there was an inscription on the flyleaf. It was difficult to read, but at the bottom it was signed “With Love. Xmas 1933.”

1933. Seventy-seven years ago that copy of “Little Women” was given to someone as a gift. How it ended up on my shelf I’ll never know, but somehow it passed through the hands of that recipient to someone else, perhaps a child. And from that child to another, on and on, over the span of close to a century.

What does it tell me? Something about the enduring power of a great story well told. And it tells me something else-that sometimes a book can be the best gift ever. Because while I’ve forgotten the toys I received when I was nine or ten, I’ve always remembered the March clan. And always will.

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